Galearis spectabilis

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: orchid 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Orchidaceae
Native Range: Eastern and central North America
Zone: 4 to 7
Height: 0.25 to 0.75 feet
Spread: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Purple-rose and white
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy, Fragrant


Best grown in loose, organically rich, moist, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Leaf mold should be worked into the soil and may also be used as a mulch. Plants need good air circulation. Soils should not be allowed to dry out. Plants observed growing in the wild transplant poorly and should not be dug for use in home gardens. Once established, plants are best left undisturbed. Plants are difficult to grow from seed. Plants prefer cool summer conditions and are not recommended for growing in areas south of USDA Zone 7.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Galearis spectabilis, commonly called showy orchis, is a small, spring-flowering orchid of moist woodlands that is native from Quebec to Ontario south to Georgia, Alabama, Missouri and Kansas. In Missouri, it is uncommon but found throughout much of state except in the southwestern unglaciated prairies regions, in some parts of the Ozarks and in the southeast lowlands. It typically grows in rich woods in ravines and slopes and in valleys and low woods of river bottoms (Steyermark). Each plant typically rises to only 6” tall (infrequently to 10” tall) and features two broad ovate to elliptic glossy dark green basal leaves (to 6” long). In April – May, a flowering spike rises from between the two leaves bearing several (typically 3-6) two-lipped flowers in a terminal raceme. The upper hood (upper petals and sepals) is purple/rose-lavender and the lower petal is white and spurred. Flowers are mildly fragrant. The flower stem rises from a cluster of long fleshy roots.

Synonymous with and sometimes sold as Orchis spectabilis.

Specific epithet from Latin means showy.


No serious insect or disease problems. Difficult to grow if the plant's cultural requirements are not met.


Wildflower gardens. Woodland areas. Wooded slopes.